NSW State Parliament debates condolence motion for Shimon Peres

October 14, 2016 by J-Wire Staff
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The NSW Parliament’s Legislative Council has debated a condolence motion in honour of the late-Israeli president and prime minister Shimon Peres. 


Walt Secord

The motion was moved by Christian Democrats MLC Paul Green and was supported by four parliamentarians. They were Multiculturalism Minister John Ajaka, Deputy Opposition leader in the NSW Legislative Council and NSW Parliamentary Friends of Israel deputy chair Walt Secord and Liberal MLCs Dr Peter Phelps and Scott Farlow. The debate was interrupted and it is expected to continue on October 20.
Walt Secord said in parliament: “As Deputy Leader of the Opposition and Deputy Chair of the New South Wales Parliamentary Friends of Israel, I lead for Labor to make a brief contribution and to formally associate myself with the motion acknowledging the passing of Israeli statesman, Shimon Peres.

I thank the Hon. Paul Green for bringing this matter to our attention and I note the presence in the President’s Gallery of Mr Vic Alhadeff, Chief Executive Officer, New South Wales Jewish Board of Deputies. Much has been said and written about Shimon Peres. In fact almost two entire editions of the Australian Jewish News seem to be dedicated to his life and legacy.

With the death of Shimon Peres on 28 September 2016, aged 93, we witnessed the passing of the last surviving member of the modern State of Israel’s founding generation of leaders. This carries significance beyond that of any individual life for those of us who watched modern Israel’s emergence with interest. Shimon Peres migrated—or made Aliyah—with his family in 1934, two years after his father migrated to what was then Palestine. He was first elected to the Israeli Knesset in 1959 and later became Israel’s ninth President. He served twice as Prime Minister, and was also a foreign minister, and showed a deft, intelligent, yet compassionate approach to the complex issues before him. This approach ultimately resulted in him receiving a Nobel Peace Prize for his work on the Oslo Accords with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. He was a dedicated servant to the State of Israel and to the Jewish people.

With his passing we see the closing of an important chapter in Zionism and in Jewish and world history. His compassion was balanced with a strength and determination for the Jewish people. Shimon Peres did much in the early part of his 70 years in public life to create a safe and secure Israel, which was arguably a precursor to his ability to work towards peace. Despite the complexity and huge scope of his responsibilities he brought a great positivity to his leadership. He was seen as an eternal optimist. Long-hailed abroad and by supporters in Israel as visionary, he was seen by his critics as a rose-coloured dreamer, set against the harsh realities of the Middle East. I expect that history will judge him as the former and less so the latter. I know that the New South Wales Jewish community deeply mourn his passing and many leaders have paid tribute to him.

More than 90 delegations, representing 70 countries, were at Shimon Peres’s funeral in Jerusalem. Australia was represented by Governor-General Sir Peter Cosgrove. Among those represented included the Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. He made a rare visit to Jerusalem and shook hands with the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during the funeral. I note that Hamas condemned Mr Abbas’ decision to attend the funeral—that is extraordinary and shows its true intentions when it comes to Israel. However, the Australian, Canadian and United States governments list Hamas as a terror organisation, and the European Union lists Hamas for the purposes of its anti-terrorism financing measures.

That aside, it was heartening to see Mr Netanyahu and Mr Abbas speak amicably to each other and shake hands. Mr Peres’ optimism is sorely needed in the world he leaves behind. His passing closes an important and significant chapter in Israel’s history. We will continue to pray for a lasting peace with a two-state solution for Israel and Palestine. Such a result would be the ultimate testament to the life and work of Shimon Peres.

Earlier this week, together with the Hon. John Ajaka, Minister for Multiculturalism, and the Hon. Paul Green of the Christian Democratic Party I had the honour and a privilege of signing the condolence book in the presence of State Zionist Council President Mr Richard Balkin. It was made available to New South Wales parliamentarians in the office of the Speaker by the State Zionist Council of New South Wales. I thank the member for Coogee, Mr Bruce Notley-Smith, for organising for the book to be placed in the Speaker’s office for colleagues to record their official condolences.

I wrote, ‘While a great statesman has left us, may the path to peace remain’. Like Shimon Peres, I too dream of a two-state solution—a Palestinian state and a safe and secure Israel—and I hope that we have the privilege of seeing this occur in our time. I thank the House for its consideration and I commend the motion.”

NSW Jewish Board of Deputies CEO Vic Alhadeff – who was in the Legislative Council President’s gallery to hear the speeches – commented: “Shimon Peres embodied the story of modern Israel, and it was very gratifying to hear these inspirational and thoughtful speeches from both sides of the House.”

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